My Gelding’s Hocks are in Later Stages of Fusion
Q. Hi there! I have a nice little seven year old gelding that, although is no Congress pleasure horse, he has fit my needs at the local level for a few years now quite nicely. This April his performance started to deteriorate drastically. He couldn’t pick up leads that once came naturally to him and although he wasn’t lame he wasn’t able to perform as well as he used to.
After a thorough exam, radiographs confirmed his hocks are in the later stages of fusion. He was injected with depomedrol and I was told to keep working him since he is in good shape however not to push too much. Injections appear to have been successful and he is moving much better again. A lot of the exercises for softening and strengthening involve circles and driving that hind end around. Is it too much to ask a horse in this condition for more collected movements and exercises or should I just lay off for awhile. Some people say keep working him the same and others say no. Can you give me your advice on exercises that we can do. He really seems to enjoy our riding and I’m hoping for the hocks to fuse nicely without damage to other joints.
A. Hi Beth,
Well the good news is, as I’m sure you know, that once your geldings hocks are fused he should be a lot more comfortable. In the meantime, let him dictate what is enough and what is too much. If he likes to work and the vet gave you those recommended exercises I would stick with those. What you want to watch out for is having him develop bad habits because he is in pain or uncomfortable. If he can’t lope properly because of the discomfort, don’t lope him, just jog. What sometimes happens is, a horse can develop bad habits and poor quality of movement because of pain, then when the pain goes away, sometimes the new way of going does not. If your horse cannot execute correctly, better to not do it at all. Your vet knows best but I would think exercises that move the haunches around at the walk, trot and lope would be OK in moderation. Even if it’s just a step or two at a time. Practice on a large circle first at the walk then the trot, stepping his haunches in a few steps, back to straight, then out a few steps. It takes a lot of control and feel to achieve a small and controlled amount of haunches in or out on a circle and to have it equally balanced in both directions without getting too much on either side. This also gets your horse really in tune with your leg aids so when he is comfortable and ready for normal work, his mind and body will be on the same page. I would also try to steer clear for a while from excessive turn arounds, rollbacks, etc that would add more strain to his back end. If your horse is comfortable carry on, and as soon as you feel he cannot correctly or comfortably do what you are asking I would stop. You obviously know your horse very well so stay in tune with him and exercise patience and I think you will have him back in no time.
Best of luck,
Troy Green is a firm believer in the importance of a good foundation for every horse with balance, rhythm, and self-carriage being key. A good foundation equals longevity in the show pen. Troy has won over two dozen All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships in western pleasure, versatility, reining, halter and western riding, and has coached clients to over 50 Congress championships. Troy has three AQHA World Championships and two National Championships under his belt, and has won at all major futurities. He spent three years on the national board of the NSBA.
Troy Green has an extensive background working with youth and amateurs at all levels and of various disciplines. He specializes in pleasure futurity and all around horses.
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